Forty Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School students received a briefing on activity in Congress, domestic and international politics and the life of a congressman when Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-6th Dist.) visited the MCVTS East Brunswick campus.
Pallone’s appearance on Jan. 14 came just two days after President Obama’s state of the union address, prompting an up-close evaluation by the congressman, who had attended the speech.
“I thought it was a great speech, optimistic, inspirational,” he said during a five-minute talk before he answered questions for about 45 minutes…
…The students, seniors in the Principals of Democracy class taught by Eric Menell, who had interned for Pallone when he was in college, and the Law and Public Safety class taught by Michael Buonaguro, asked questions about gun control, the environment and financial aid for college students.
Pallone told the students he is in his 28th year in Congress and is outranked in seniority by only 15 members. The ranking Democratic member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he cited approval of the annual appropriations bill and funding for transportation projects in December as major achievements by Congress.
“I would hope that all of you get involved in politics,” he told the students, noting that most of them would be eligible to vote in the presidential election later this year.
He said he spends three or four days a week in Washington, attending committee meetings in the morning and going to the floor of the House of Representatives in the afternoon.
The rest of the week he is in his district. He said his offices in New Brunswick and Long Branch deal with constituent services, spending a lot of time helping people with immigration issues.
Before leaving the campus, Pallone toured the shop of the school district’s newest career major, Pre-engineering and Manufacturing Technology, where he was greeted by a robot holding a welcome sign.
As the freshman students demonstrated what they are learning about robotics, engineering, computer technology and electronics, teacher Stephen Mercadante and Superintendent of Schools Brian Loughlin explained that the “blended” curriculum is aimed at getting graduates ready to enter the world of advanced manufacturing.
“This is a new venture anticipating the needs of industry,” Loughlin said.
Pallone pointed out that manufacturing jobs have increased in the United States “every year since the recession.”
The Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District, the first full-time county vocational school district in the nation, has seven schools on five campuses, in East Brunswick, Edison, Piscataway, Perth Amboy and Woodbridge.
For further information: Superintendent of Schools Brian J. Loughlin, (732) 257-3300, Ext. 1910